By Roger McKinney
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The core beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam were outlined by members of those religions recently at First Community Church.
It was the first of a planned series of interfaith events planned through 2013 and 2014. Around 50 attended.
The panelists each qualified their remarks by saying that not everyone in their respective religions would agree with them.
Paul Teverow, with the United Hebrew Congregation, said the First Commandment, as found in the Hebrew Bible, is important: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other Gods before me."
"Pretty much everything else that Jews do proceeds from that," Teverow said.
Teverow said the most common prayer among Jews from Deuteronomy also affirms a basic core belief: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."
He also referred to the 13 principles of Jewish faith, compiled by Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon during the medieval period. The principles include the belief in God's unity and eternity, the belief in resurrection of the dead, of divine reward and retribution and that a Messiah will come.
Teverow also was reminded by audience member of another core belief, from Rabbi Hillel, who lived from around 110 BCE to around 10 CE: "That which is hateful to yourself, do not do unto others. This is the whole Torah, all the rest is commentary. Now go and study."
The Rev. Jill Michel, pastor of South Joplin Christian Church, presented the core principles of Christianity. Michel said Christians, too, believe in one God.
"It's God in three creations, but still one God," she said.
She said Jesus, who died on the cross and rose from the dead, was a manifestation of God in human form. She also said the Bible is an authority for life, and that people were created to live in relationship with God Ñ prayer is an expression of that relationship.
She said Christians believe in an eternal life and in heaven and hell. Baptism is an outward sign of commitment to the faith.
"Sin is real, and it separates us from God," she said. "God forgives sins."
Lahmuddin, imam at the Islamic Society of Joplin, presented the core beliefs of Islam. The first is the shahada, or statement of faith: "There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God."
He said Muslims believe that the Quran, the Muslim holy book, was delivered from God to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, or Jibreel in Arabic. He said by following the Quran, which Muslim believe is the word of God, one can live in accordance with God.
He said many things in the Quran are very clear. Those include a requirement to pray five times daily and prohibitions against eating pork, drinking alcohol and gambling.
"This life, God says in the Quran, is a test," he said.
Lahmuddin was asked about jihad.
"I am doing jihad right now," he said, resulting in laughter. Another Muslim in attendance explained that jihad is to strive in one's faith.
Michel said while it's important to recognize that the religions have many things in common, it's not appropriate to think of them as the same. She said there are differences that must be honored.